Frequently Asked Questions About LipoDiesel
Is this story for real? Did you actually make fuel from human fat?
Yes. We actually made fuel from human fat removed during liposuction. We called it LipoDiesel.
Why on Earth would you do this?
Because of the Earth! We need to have an open mind and creativity when it comes to solving our reliance on fossil fuels. We should not be fighting foreign wars for oil or supporting authoritarian nations simply because they produce oil.
Was this even legal?
Yes. All the fat used to create LipoDiesel came from patients who consented to having their fat turned into fuel. The fat from any patient who didn't consent was incinerated as medical waste as required by law. There was no law that prevented us from turning the fat into fuel as long as the patient consented.
How was LipoDiesel made?
Making fat from fuel is a simple process and any animal fat can be used. Fat is made up of fat cells. Inside fat cells is oil. If you heat up the fat, the fat cells will rupture, releasing the oil. Then the the fuel needs to be strained and the process repeated. The resulting product is biofuel.
Can I throw up now? This makes me feel sick.
We get it. LipoDiesel is a bit gross. Our goal wasn't to give you dry heaves. Our goal was to humorously start a conversation about biofuel and point out that energy sources are all around us, if we open our eyes and get creative.
What car did you run on LipoDiesel?
We owned a Mercedes GL 320 diesel and we used LipoDiesel and other biofuels. We also owned a Lincoln Navigator at the time and the media often reported incorrectly that we were using LipoDiesel in our Navigator. Lincoln Navigators are gasoline combustion engines, not diesel engines.
Are you still making LipoDiesel?
No. Our last batch of fuel was made in late 2008.
What happened with the clinic and LipoDiesel?
We closed the clinic in 2008 for a number of reasons. We were the largest liposuction clinic in the world and there was a lot of attention on us. We made a legitimate regulatory mistake that was blown way out of proportion in the media - and when combined with the LipoDiesel mayhem and death threats, we were overwhelmed. The media made the story into sensational clickbait but the truth wasn't all that exciting. In the end, we paid a $244 fine with 3 years probation.
Why was reaction so strong to LipoDiesel?
We certainly understand why people are grossed out by LipoDiesel, but even after a decade we don't really get why people are offended or think LipoDiesel is immoral. We think fossil fuels are offensive and not finding alternatives is immoral.
Why didn't you correct the bad media or fight the internet trolls?
Back in 2008 there was no term for internet troll. We didn't understand what was happening to us or how to have a voice in the conversation. There was no Twitter, Instagram or Reddit. MySpace (seriously we used MySpace!) didn't provide a format for engaging in a truthful conversation. Being compared to Hitler and getting death threats at your house is something most people thankfully never go through.
Were the death threats serious and did they make you move?
We don't know how serious the lunatics online calling for our death actually were. Some were religious fanatics and others were just trolls enjoying a ride on the outrage express. But the death threats felt serious and we reported them to the police. People showed up at our house to protest and harassed an employee at his home. We owned a vacation home in Brazil at the time and we moved there because we needed a break.
What did you do after LipoDiesel?
Craig went to law school at UCLA (graduated class of 2013) and Steph began investing in real estate and she is active in the politics of cannabis and psilocybin.
Is it true you changed your names?
Yes. We changed our last name to Smith before our first child was born. Smith is a common last name in both our families and we wanted to be known for who we are, not for the drama of the past.
Do you regret making LipoDiesel?
What does your car run on now that you aren't making LipoDiesel?
We drive all electric Teslas powered in part by solar panels.
What do you do now to help the environment?
We do our best to lead a life with a low carbon footprint. We are currently busy raising our 5 kids (admittedly 5 kids isn't a green choice!) and teaching them how to be change makers and advocates for the environment. Our kids go to Green School in Bali, Indonesia. Green School's focus is on educating tomorrows environmental leaders.